By Liora Fishman
“What do you want to be when you graduate college?” For many, combining their passion and their employer is not easy. For 2006 Horace Greeley High School graduate Jonathan Schwebel, this was not the case.
Throughout Bell Middle School and Greeley, Schwebel discovered a passion for history and politics; in seventh grade, a Social Studies assignment on contemporary history turned into an interview with Bill Clinton at the Clinton’s Chappaqua home.
“I had a school project in which I had to conduct an interview related to contemporary history. It was my idea to interview Bill Clinton. I walked a note over to his secret service people and then two days later I received a call that I could interview him.” Schwebel shared, “I was that kid who would talk to anyone about anything.” Of the resulting press coverage, “I learned how to communicate with people effectively at a young age.”
A 2010 graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Schwebel majored in History and Political Science, motivated by events of the past and present, and how they are shaped by external factors like religion, economics and geography. It seems natural that he took those interests to help Americans that have helped their country.
Disabled Vets Need Jobs
Schwebel is a Business Analyst with Hire Disability Solutions (“HDS”), an employment consulting company, promoting the inclusion of veterans with disabilities and disabled people in the work force. Created in 2004 in response to the staggering millions of unemployed disabled people, the company helps connect businesses to the disabled worker. With wars on three fronts and an economic crisis, there has never been a more important time for politics and business to come together for the benefit of military veterans returning to the civilian workforce.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 report, “the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military at any time since September 2001was 11.5%,” of which about 25% reported having a service-connected disability. With 400,000 U.S. jobless claims per month, according to the Labor Department’s March report, the civilian job prospects for returning troops could not be worse.
After being in the military, though, how are these men and women to find a job? “We’re all about strategic partnerships.” Schwebel said. “Basically, our corporate goal is to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their personal goal. We present information and resources for individuals with disabilities to then connect with employers, employment opportunities, so they can succeed in building their skills professionally.” In an article for Politico, Senators Kay Hagan and Scott Brown explain: “When our heroes become veterans, we must ensure that their hard earned knowledge, skills, and dedication are translated into job opportunities in the civilian world.”
Career Expo for Veterans
On May 24th, HDS hosted “Be a Hero, Hire a Hero” Veterans’ Expo at the Hotel New Yorker. The event was expected to be the largest veteran’s career Expo ever, without accounting for the “virtual attendants” video-conferenced into interviews. The Joint Chiefs of Staff has supported the Expo by allowing it to be broadcast at every military base in the world. Companies were able to communicate with active military duty members within six months of their departure by using a live feed to conduct interviews.
If the importance of this event can be measured by press coverage, the anchor crews reporting spoke volumes. “The Expo went incredibly well,” said Schwebel. “Each of the 108 employers who participated said they were very impressed with how qualified the candidates were, and I would say at least 3,000 veterans attended the event. The next Expo will be in November, and will occur on the Intrepid.”
Preparing Vets for Employment
HDS offers additional programs for veterans, including job training, mentorship, financial counseling, and resume improvement. “The skills [veterans] learn in the military are desired in every company. Many times those skills such as leadership, loyalty, respect, and integrity are the skills which corporations seek.” Schwebel continued, “We assist the veterans in translating their experience to a resume, an interview, and a job.”
Passionate about his work and focused on how history shapes us, Schwebel is hopeful that the success of the Expo will brings success to our veterans. Attending meetings with political officials and large-scale corporations fighting for this important cause, Schwebel has found himself right where he belongs. As Schwebel said, “These people are giving us the life that we are allowed to live, so it’s our responsibility to make sure that they have every opportunity to succeed.”
Liora Fishman is now a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School.